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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Interlude with a fat stick



Not all of my friends appreciate Fred's personality the way I do.

To some he's an unbearably spoiled extrovert.

I won't deny that he is spoiled, but most folks find at least a few of his antics amusing.

Take his 3-legged stance during morning constitutionals. It's become de rigeur. Has my regular praise at potty time reinforced this quirk?

Anyway, the other day we hiked down to the north fork of the Feather River and found that the sandy beach at Fred's swimming hole was replaced with a cobble bar.

Our extended family spent an afternoon on the sandy beach back in November.

My sister-in-law, a city girl, insisted "This isn't the right place."

"There was a sandy beach, remember?"

Cobbles driven into an alder crotch
5 feet above the bank. 

I explained that the floods must have washed it away, but she didn't buy it.

Finally I pointed to the more permanent features of the site and convinced her that high water can wash away a beach or fill a deep swimming hole with sand.

In addition to driving several cobbles between the limbs of an alder tree the floods also deposited a new crop of flotsam.





Fred quickly found a suitable stick and morphed into his stick-obsessed Labrador persona.

Then I found a fat punky chunk of wood and lobbed it into the river, and the dog gave full-throated chase.

The transformative effect of the super-normal stimulus was magical.

He emerged stick-smitten and pranced with the trophy.



He dropped it and barked . . . my cue to toss it in again.

The fat stick stirred Fred's dog emotions deeply.




He whined and yodeled as he tried to turn it with his paws.




He gnawed off great chunks of punky wood, and every time he lost his paw grip he would emote like a deranged hound of the Baskervilles.  

When it was to time to march back to the car, Fred wouldn't part ways with his beloved fat stick.



He gripped it in his jaws even when he rested.  He knew his beloved would roll back to the river if he set it down. 

After a mile and a half his ardor waned, and he abandoned fat stick on the trail. 

We were only two hundred yards from the car.

It had been a wildly passionate interlude, but he was exhausted.  

He crashed as soon as we got home.

7 comments:

Bonnie K said...

My dog, Ella, is that way about pinecones. We can take a mile walk, start with one pinecone and end with it. You gotta love it.

biobabbler said...

That's a riot. That was a tiny novel. Nice. =)

Paula said...

To have a lab is to love a lab. They are great dogs with wonderful sometimes quirky personalities.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Fred's a lab-border collie mix (a "borador"), with maybe some hound blood from the lab side. He can herd cattle and old folks who spread out on the hiking trail, but he's goofy for retrieving sticks and swimming at any time of year. When he scents a game trail he yodels like a hound. We love the bugger.

owlman said...

I assume that you carried the beloved chunk of driftwood back to the car for Fred?

Camera Trap Codger said...

Incorrect, my friend, but I'll have him wear his dog pannier next time around.

Chas Clifton said...

Lab, border collie, whatever, he's got that "object carry" thing down pretty well.